We are used to having rabbits all over the property. They are fairly tame because we do not chase them off, but one morning one of them was standing right in the middle of the back yard looking very nervous. I walked up to her and noticed she actually had babies underneath her suckling. I was surprised as it was right in the middle of yard!
Before I scared her off I ran to get the camera and caught a great video I wanted to share.
The 5 bunnies stayed hidden for a long time before they emerged. There were 4 left and they spent a lot of time stretched out on the ground under the trees trying to cool off.
Part of the joy of living on a farm is enjoying the wildlife, that is if you have protected your crops well enough!
If you have been following us we have had some bad luck in keeping bees alive in our unpredictable climate. We started the first year with two hives. One died off and one thrived. The second year we purchased two more hives but a couple days later we had a late snow storm that took out one of the hives and the second one eventually died not being strong enough to overcome the damage from the storm. The thriving hive gave us lots of fantastic honey but then swarmed and left after an early snow storm. We put out swarm bait in clean new swarm traps but they never came back. So no bees left! The harsh environment makes keeping bees a challenge, but we aren’t going to give up.
This year we are stacking the odds in our favor by increasing the number of hives to four. Since we are buying so many bees this time we decided to forego the Nukes we’ve purchased in the past. Nukes are considered more established than just a box of bees because they have frames the bees already set up, but they are much more expensive. Not only did boxes save us money but since we haven’t had good luck with the bees we received in Nukes it couldn’t hurt to try something different.
Bees are only delivered once a year to retailers so we are told what day we are going to pick them up. Delivery day is interesting because everyone picks up their bees at the same time and everyone has a different level of experience. Some people arrive in protective gear and some just grab their bee boxes with bare hands. In the end, nobody got stung. Keep in mind that the boxes are a wire cloth so it’s not unusual for bees to get out. The good thing is they like to stay with their hive mates so they will hang close to the box. You always have a few bees flying freely in your car when you take them home. Some people wear their entire bee suit all the way home!
Now it may seem a little rough but the way to get bees out of a box and into their new hive is to pop the top off and shake them out! When you watch the video it looks a little mean but it’s really the way it’s done. And we are a little nicer by tapping the boxes on it’s edge or corner to keep from crushing bees. We try to save every last bee.
The queen is actually in it’s own tiny box that you uncork and replace with a marshmallow, letting the queen chew her way out. You want to give the queen and bees a little time to get to know each other before she gets out. The queen was just introduced when they boxed them up for sale. If they don’t accept the queen they could kill her. Just another risk you have when buying a box rather than a Nuke.
This year we decided to pick a different area to set up the hives it’s surrounded by trees and not as deep in the valley where the winds can get brutal. The installs went well and we are crossing our fingers! Let’s see how they do this year.
When I take videos of the bees I have to take off at least one glove. The bees are everywhere during the install and this time one landed in my hand and did not look very happy. I won’t spoil the surprise but it did scare me a little!
Watch the bee install on the farm’s YouTube Channel:
We immediately planted all the seeds once the beds were ready. We did not want to lose any time since we have such a short growing season. The picture shows a new tactic we’re taking to prevent the birds from eating the peas this year. We hooped some fencing over the planted area as a deterrent. It would require a desperate bird to work it’s way through the fence to even realize what type of plants they are. There is plenty of greener plants around to peak their interest. Spoiler alert….it worked!
Next, the lettuce seedlings came up quickly. Since we never use weed block fabric on the lettuce rows it’s also the beginning of weed pulling! Be honest. Take a look at this picture. Can you tell me which are weeds and which are the lettuce? No? And this is why the woman of the house is stuck weeding the lettuce and root vegetables until they are 2 inches tall!
Beets and carrots take longer to surface. We hand water the carrots in particular as soil dries quickly here, seeds are shallow and they seem to take forever to take a hold and leaf out. Unfortunately they initially look like blades of thin grass. Another reason the man of the house will never weed the carrots this young. Bean seeds come up quickly and we can use weed block since they grow farther apart. Luckily another reduction of manual labor. We try to minimize it as much as possible. In the next few weeks we will be able to bring out the transplants we have been growing inside. Until then we have hand watering and weeding to do!
You may have noticed in earlier pictures that there are a couple rows in the plot that were already covered and weren’t processed in the spring. Those two rows contain garlic that was planted in October last year. The idea is garlic is considered a cold weather plant and the growth is focused on roots, so it can do a lot of growing over winter.
To protect it from a harsh winter we stuffed the fabric with hay to give it some extra insulation. As the weather warmed up some of the green leaves started to surface. We pulled most of the hay out so the black fabric, holding the heat of the sun, could warm up the soil. This caused the plants to pop. You can see how big this plant is in April. Of course early growth means it’s the only greenery the birds see in early spring. As you can see they have been taking nibbles of the tops. We know it’s birds because our fencing is deer and rabbit proof.
As the temperature warms we have to continue to watch the garlic to make sure it does not flower. Flowering takes away energy for making the bulbs so we cut the flowers or scapes when they appear to keep them building bigger bulbs.
Since they are a cold weather plant they will start dying off in August which is considered harvesting time. We can’t wait to see how they turn out as it’s our first garlic crop in the new plot.